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The In-Memory Revolution

May 5, 2015 by Paul Baur 5

A new book explains theory, technology, and practice behind in-memory databases, the engine on which completely new applications can be based.

It is the fall of 2006, and Prof. Dr. hc. mult. Hasso Plattner, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of SAP SE and professor at the University of Potsdam, is looking for a topic to challenge his PhD candidates. Starting with a blank whiteboard, markers, and an eraser, Plattner poses a simple yet audacious question: If someone were to design an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system from scratch today, what would it look like?

Plattner’s thought experiment and discussions with his PhD students set off a chain of events that will culminate in the launch of an in-memory database system, SAP HANA. With memory getting cheaper and cheaper and with the ability to massively process data in parallel, Plattner predicted that ERP systems can take advantage of this trend to instantaneously update and analyze data, practically achieving zero response time.

CoverInMemoryRevolution01Those who are curious about major technological advances with the power to transform businesses or disrupt industries will want to read “The In-Memory Revolution”, co-authored by Plattner and Bernd Leukert, member of the Executive Board at SAP SE and responsible for the Products & Innovation board area. The book contains a lively mix of stories and reference information about the foundation of in-memory computing and the new ways that companies worldwide are applying it to conquer business challenges that were heretofore unsolvable, and therefore unaddressed.

The goal of the book is to give readers a better understanding of what to expect for the future of business and to show them ways how they can participate in evolving existing enterprise applications with new technology. SAP HANA is the engine on which completely new applications can be based, able to crunch the growing masses of data that companies and institutions need to obtain real-time insight into their operations and stakeholders.

Readers learn about the technologies that currently serve as the basis for SAP HANA and the new enterprise business suite, SAP Business Suite 4 SAP HANA (SAP S/4HANA), announced in February 2015.

Examples in the book describe both the business benefits and the technology of SAP HANA, addressing readers from both business and technological backgrounds. In fact, SAP HANA’s technological achievements and business benefits are depicted successfully as two sides of the same coin.

The features of SAP HANA are demonstrated with examples of real applications built together with co-innovation partners. Each example shows how SAP HANA enables the respective business benefits. For instance, the authors explain how SAP HANA stores data at its finest level of granularity, and how this enables a new, previously unknown flexibility in enterprise applications.

The book contains three main parts in a modern design that supports the reader in navigating the content:

  • Part I introduces the foundation of SAP HANA and illuminates its technical background.
  • Part II discusses SAP S/4HANA and its applications to the world of enterprise business.
  • Part III describes examples of real-world SAP HANA projects and explains how SAP HANA enables the particular solutions and their impact on business.

Executives, consultants, sales people, and startup entrepreneurs, as well as engineers, scholars, and students in the area of computer science stand to benefit most from the information provided, but most of the book is accessible to anyone interested in learning what’s in store for the future of computing.

The In-Memory Revolution – How SAP HANA Enables Business of the Future, Springer International Publishing, 275 pages. Foreword by Clayton Christensen, Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School.
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